Big sound, really an immense rock sound from this Welsh trio (my first exposure to them, in fact, was one of Rocksteady's early Midnight World Pop Scout posts). I'm not sure I've heard guitars like this on a pop/rock record in quite a while... sure, Swervedriver, Teenage Fanclub, those bands really crank them up, but even at their loudest, I don't recall hearing their guitars shred like they do on some of these songs. And that doesn't even mention the drumming, which is gigantic, too. I'm reminded of Big Country, remember them? Look, I know my Welsh from my Scots, but still, there are similarities... the guitars are loud, strong and make all kinds of cool sounds, the drumming propels and anchors the big sound and of course, music like this requires a very strong vocalist.
Singer Ritzy Bryan has the vocal presence to stand in front of a band with a gigantic sound, which is saying quite a bit, and the harmony vocals are outstanding, too.
Video for "Whirring":
I think "Whirring" is the album's centerpiece and it certainly showcases all that this band is doing: the amped, treated guitars, the huge drum sounds and of course the strong, clear voice of Bryan. But they keep the pedal to the metal throughout and hit very few low points from beginning to end.
Here's another track: "Austere"
The Joy Formidable sound great to me, and they sound familiar in a way. I find myself trying to summon the exact analogue, but the best I can do are references like the above, and another band that I really liked, Creeper Lagoon. Like the music supplied by Creeper Lagoon in Orange County, this band's songs could certainly supply the emotional underpinnings of a coming-of-age movie with a twist. Who knows, perhaps the deal's been struck. They are on a major label, after all.
I suppose great things are expected, and I hope they come for this band. But even if they never make anything else quite this good, The Big Roar is worth celebrating... and cranking.
The Joy Formidable Website